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Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value$
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Rebecca Copenhaver and Todd Buras

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198733676

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198733676.001.0001

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Thomas Reid on Aesthetic Perception

Thomas Reid on Aesthetic Perception

(p.124) 6 Thomas Reid on Aesthetic Perception
Thomas Reid on Mind, Knowledge, and Value

Rebecca Copenhaver

Oxford University Press

Reid’s aesthetics is well known for being an example of an expression theory of art. There is some controversy over whether his expression theory is inconsistent with his anti-subjectivism about aesthetic qualities. The controversy has centered on whether Reid holds that aesthetic qualities are primary or secondary qualities. This chapter argues that Reid’s views about the ontology of aesthetic qualities will not solve the controversy. Beauty and grandeur are properties of subjects, but this does not make them subjective properties. Typical perceivers perceive beauty and grandeur because they are aesthetically literate—they understand the aesthetic significance of ordinary properties of material objects. The aesthetically literate person treats properties of material objects as signs, attending not to the properties of the objects as such but to the beauty and grandeur that they signify.

Keywords:   Thomas Reid, aesthetics, expressivism, perception, value

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